March 13, 2009
This Is Not A Game
Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show has never, in my memory, turned its entire half hour into an interview of a single guest — and they get huge guests. But that’s what they did yesterday for CNBC’s Jim Cramer. And it’s a doozy.
Last week, as part of its Santelli-inspired critique of CNBC, Stewart ran two series of clips of Cramer offering pretty terrible financial advice, first with a bunch of other CNBC pundits, and then (after Cramer loudly and publicly complained) of Cramer by himself. In this interview, Stewart shows unaired clips of Cramer (who used to run a hedge fund) from 2006:
- talking about how easy it is to manipulate the markets through the media;
- admitting that he used to do it, particularly to make money on a short sell;
- suggesting that other hedge fund managers do the same, as it’s a fast and satisfying way to make money;
- offering specific advice on how to do this right then with a particular stock (Apple Computer).
As Stewart says, we want Jim Cramer the journalist to protect us from Jim Cramer the financial schemer. Instead of being a watchdog, CNBC became a cheerleader.
The entire interview is amazing. I’ve got the clips (including those from previous shows that lead to this) embedded after the jump, but let me also quote James Fallows and Sean Quinn on what went down.
Yes, it is cliched to praise Stewart as the “true” voice of news; and, yes, it is too pinata-like to join the smacking of CNBC…. But I found this — the Stewart/Cramer slaughter — incredible…
Just before leaving China — ie, two days ago — I saw with my wife the pirate-video version of Frost/Nixon, showing how difficult it is in real time to ask the kind of questions Stewart did. I know, Frost was dealing with a former president. Still, it couldn’t have been easy to do what Stewart just did. Seeing this interview justified the three-day trip in itself.
On the day in October 2004 that Jon Stewart made up his mind to end CNNís Crossfire, viewers didnít have advance warning. By contrast, last nightís epic takedown of CNBC and
Fast MoneyMad Money host Jim Cramer that built over an eight-day period, including the advance hype of a Thursday morning front-page, above-the-fold story on Americaís most widely-circulated newspaper, USA Today.
It did not disappoint. In addition to an extensive confrontation that included footage of Cramer admitting to the ease of manipulating markets, Stewart indicted CNBCís ďsins of commissionĒ in fueling hype that led to the economic crisis.
Quinn also pulls the money quote from Stewart:
I understand you want to make finance entertaining, but itís not a (bleeping) game. And when I watch that, I get, I canít tell you how angry that makes me. Because what it says to me is: you all know. You all know whatís going on. You know, you can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear, and AIG, and all this derivative market stuff that is this weird Wall Street side bet.
Watch it, it’s worth it.